As a student of legendary American statistician and management guru William Edwards Deming, Stephen DiFranco learned that the intelligent use of statistics can dramatically improve product quality and service delivery.
It is a lesson that DiFranco, vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard’s Solution Partners Organization, has used to benefit solution providers teaming with HP.
DiFranco, who just celebrated his first anniversary overseeing what may well be the broadest and deepest information technology channel in the world, has made big gains simplifying and streamlining channel programs and processes that were taking a heavy toll on HP partners. That’s no small matter given the complexity of running a channel at a $126 billion behemoth. It’s an accomplishment that has some channel cognoscenti referring to DiFranco as HP’s own channel management scientist.
Partners credit DiFranco with collecting far-flung data from partners and HP’s many businesses and then cutting through the red tape to bring an unprecedented measure of simplicity. DiFranco, for example, responded to partner concerns about deal-registration complexity and last November debuted a tool that cut the number of options partners must consider from 11 to five and drew clearer delineation between volume- and value-oriented transactions.
“I love DiFranco,” said Mark Romanowski, executive vice president at ASI System Integration, one of HP’s top enterprise partners. “He has cut through so much red tape at HP and just continues to streamline processes. If I need help, ‘Bingo,’ he gets it done. He makes things happen.”
Jim Kavanaugh, CEO and co-founder of World Wide Technology, a $3 billion national solution provider, agreed that DiFranco has made a huge difference. “He has made good progress,” said Kavanaugh of the channel changes. “But it is such a big machine that there is still a lot of opportunity to continue to make improvements. HP isn’t an organization that you can change overnight. You have to take a longer-term view of how you are going to change policies, procedures and systems. Sometimes you can try to change policy and procedures and the back-office systems won’t allow you to do it.”
DiFranco said one of his biggest accomplishments has been to “bring all channel operations for all business units into one group.”
To that end, DiFranco created two new channel operations positions, naming Debra LeBlanc as vice president of channel operations for the Americas and Rory Hunter as vice president of applications development in HP’s Global Information Technology group. DiFranco said Hunter is essentially the CIO of the applications HP uses to service partners, many of which came to HP through its many acquisitions over the years.
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